I played a lot of sports in middle school and high school and somehow, I had never touched a tennis racket until about two years ago. I promptly put that racket back after that first outing, because I was absolutely terrible. I have read a lot of TJR’s books and really loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I like Daisy Jones and the Six, and I enjoyed the rest of her oeuvre enough to read them on the beach. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that despite being a book featuring a lot of tennis, I would probably like it. But it was to me.
Carrie Soto was born with tennis in her blood. Her father, Javier Soto came to the US from Argentina to play. He was an excellent player but it wasn’t everything to him. When he meets and marries Carries mother and they have Carrie, he feels like he has succeeded in life. When his daughter turns out to be a little bit of a phenom he’s thrilled, but he is also good enough dad that he wants her to have fun and learn to play “beautiful tennis”, all the fundamentals being perfect and adjusts made based on one’s opponent. Then they lose Carrie’s mother and her father tries to teach her how to carry on with life through heartache. He believes he does this, he does not. As Carrie gets older she has a different view of tennis…all she wants from it is to win, people are just something in her way, lovers are only temporary. Winning is the only thing that fulfills her now. She fires her father as her coach and begins playing some of the best tennis of her life with no regard for her body, particularly her knees. This causes her to retire. When she hears at 37 that someone is about to break her Grand Slam record she decides to ask her father to help her train and take it back one last time.
Her father and her new agent are happy to help her but they need someone who has enough power to hit against her and help her train. Welcome back Bowe Huntley, a guy she had a one night stand with back in the 80’s who is also trying to wage his own comeback. Together they train and begin their comeback tour at specific matches. While they’re getting physically close, Carrie only has her eye on the prize, to win against Nikki Chan, the woman who took her record. The rest of the book leads to whether or not she gets that moment and whether or not she can have fun with tennis, and have fun with life.
I really liked this book. There were certain parts that I wished had been expanded so that I could truly be in love with this book but I’ll say, I cried a couple of times–so the book spoke to me, and that’s really the only thing you can ask of books. If you’ve never read Taylor Jenkins Reid, this isn’t a bad one to start with. She always includes little easter eggs from her other novels so events from Malibu Rising (in which Carrie appears) pop up, Carrie is reading the unauthorized biography of Daisy Jones and the Six and so forth, the characters weave in and out (especially the Riva family).